Want to know what “googoogaga” really means? Zoundream believes it can tell you.
A company based in Switzerland claims that it can translate exactly what babies are saying when they cry and maintains that those translations can detect autism, Insider reported.
After having her first child in 2016, scientist Ana Laguna became intent on translating the newborn’s cries. After finding few resources to help her interpret the sobs, she decided to record them and search for patterns herself. Realizing that she’d found a hole in the parenting market, the now-33-year-old moved to scale up her project into a full-fledged company, and thus Zoundream was born.
“Many projects come about by mistake or by necessity. Mine is one of the latter,” Laguna told Insider of Zoundream.
The foundation of the company and its software is based on thousands of hours of international baby cries analyzed using a system for measuring noise called spectrograms. After studying their massive trove of screaming children noises, Laguna and her team created a baby cry classification system divided into: hunger, pain, gas and wanting affection. Incredibly, despite the vast diversity of languages spoken across the globe, newborn humans all share one universal language, and Laguna found that, for instance, while German babies may sound slightly different than American babies, both express the same discernible sentiments.
This past October, Zoundream raised just under $1 million. The successful fund-raising, as well as positive feedback from users, encouraged Laguna and the Zoundream team to expand the company to not only translate babies but also make early autism diagnoses. While perhaps not obviously related, determining what children’s cries mean and whether or not they have autism actually have to do with a similar set of character analyses.
“The cry of a child on the autistic spectrum is very characteristic — very hoarse. You can see it quite clearly on the spectrogram,” said Laguna. The ability to accurately diagnose the developmental disability earlier in life could be a windfall for children affected.
“In cases of early diagnosis,” she said, “autism is detected at around the age of 2. Imagine the improvement if it could be done before the age of 6 months.”